What Locals REALLY Think About Living in Raleigh - Ellen Pitts NC Realtor (2023)

Last week I spent some time in some of the most popular Raleigh hangouts, asking people what they love about living in Raleigh. And because you know…I’m kind of a straight shooter, I also asked them what they didn’t like so much about Raleigh. In today’s video I am going to share with you the 5 things people told me they love about the city of Raleigh and the 5 things people Hate about Raleigh. These are not my words, these are just regular people who I happened to bump into on my travels.

Pros of Living in Raleigh

Moore Square Market

This is Moore Square. Just a few years ago it was a rundown area without much to recommend it. Today it is a vibrant city square where people love to come hang out and enjoy the local food scene. We came by on Sunday to the Moore Square Market to see what we could find. There are often events here and usually live music. Actually a big thing that is coming BACK to Raleigh finally after all the pandemic shutdowns is the Hopscotch Music Festival!! This festival is known for it’s eclectic lineup of musicians….they host everything from rock, hip-hop, metal, folk, electronic…all kinds of stuff. And this will be happening right in downtown Raleigh across two stages this September. One of the stages is in Moore Square and one at Raleigh city Plaza

Anyway, Moore Square is a great little hang out space flanked by some of the most popular restaurants in Raleigh. There is also some really iconic stuff around here. Right across the street is The Pour House music hall and record shop. They have a bar and record shop upstairs and the downstairs is a small event venue…where they have all kinds of local and indie bands play. Then there is the Raleigh Times Bar around the corner. It’s in the old newspaper building and there are clippings from the former newspaper, The Raleigh Times, all over the walls. It’s got this really connected to history feel.

Foodie Heaven

If you are a foodie, you have found your foodie heaven. Raleigh stays very true to it’s agricultural roots and real food is around every corner. Whether you want to purchase locally grown meats and veggies and do your own cooking or you’re looking for farm to table food prepared for you, you don’t have to look far in Raleigh to find it. Irregardless Cafe is one of the most iconic restaurants in Raleigh. They have been serving organic, farm to table food since before it was popular. They opened way back in 1975. They also have live music 3 nights a week and a full bar and you don’t want to miss their brunch!

Truth be told, there is a farm stand on every corner in Raleigh during the growing season. But Raleigh is also home to the state farmers market which is an amazing experience. It’s peach season and cantaloupe season in Raleigh right now in July. This is literally my favorite food time of year and Michelles at the state farmers market has the BEST melons you will ever eat anywhere. If you come to Raleigh in the summer. Go to michelles. If you find yourself in Raleigh eating grocery store cantaloupe that tastes like plastic, you will remember this video and then you will go to the farmers market and get yourself a cantaloupe from Michelles. And this is not even a paid ad. You’ll thank me later.

Drive Shack

Raleigh is full of really fun things to do. And we are one of four cities in the US that has a Drive Shack. Which is super cool. I actually live very close to this Drive Shack and I will say my neighbors and I weren’t super psyched when we saw the netting rising up into the sky when they started building it. But I guess that is way better than a golf ball flying through your kitchen window. Here is some forewarning, I am not a golfer. My mother and my grandmother have both hit holes in one and are very good golfers. But you know stuff your mom does when you’re a kid is not cool so I never got into it. But I decided to head over to Drive Shack to see what all the fuss was about.

Family Friendly

Another thing a lot of people said about Raleigh is there is a lot of family friendly community focused things to do here. In the summertime that often means water. Although I do not understand why spraygrounds seem to be a kid thing. Because when it’s 95 degrees in the summer I could stand a good spray in the face with some water. Okay maybe not in the face. Anyway, there are always a million kids on the many different spray grounds throughout the Triangle. We’ve got a few spraygrounds in Raleigh and also throughout the surrounding towns…. Wake Forest, Knightdale, Fuquay, Cary and have spraygrounds. But if that isn’t your thing, there are community pools and lakes like Falls Lake and Jordan lake where you can go boating or skiing.

Community Focused

Raleigh is just an easy way to get plugged into your people. There are so many community groups focused around spending time with friends. There are just so many groups to get involved in in Raleigh. Whatever you like to do, you can be sure there is someone who has formed a group for it. Meetups is a great place to find friends. On the first page of groups on meetup there are things like Over the Hill Hiking…probably for retirees, soccer groups, yoga groups, groups for 20 soemthings, groups for 30 somethings, groups for 30 40 and 50 somethings. Oh and groups for people who like to play board games, which is something I should mention that has gotten popular around here lately. There are several “gaming” clubs in the triangle. This is not just for people who play video games, although there is a lot of that around here with companies like Epic Games having their headquarters here. But these gaming clubs are for board game enthusiasts. There are several throughout the triangle. The Gamer’s Armory is a gaming shop in Cary that is a great place to hang out and play board games. They have a ton of tables and they host gaming nights where you can go meet other gamers and play in tournaments. It’s pretty cool.

CONS of Living in Raleigh

I really did ask as many people as would talk to me what they disliked about Raleigh. And we couldn’t come up with much. Maybe people just haven’t lived here long enough. Or maybe people in Raleigh are just so happy and positive that they always look on the bright side. Or maybe anyone who wrote those grumpy reviews online has already moved away. At any rate, I am going to share some bad stuff that I came up with because no place is perfect. Even if people say it is.


Do you See these cute faces?? This is what crossed my mind when this morning, my next door neighbor texted me to let me know there was a HUGE coyote in her yard near our shared fenceline. Now her dog is really big, but my little guys are just about a coyote sized snack. Truly there are coyotes in Raleigh and you will see them around at times. But coyotes are nocturnal so I wouldn’t leave my puppies out overnight alone or in the early morning because if they are small they really may get snatched. Coyotes usually eat small mammals like rabbits and voles, but a small kitty or puppy…. Keep them inside. I wouldn’t say it’s a common thing that I hear about happening. It’s not like there are armies of coyotes waiting to snatch your pets and there are also PLENTY of wild rabbits and other small mammals. So they’re not hungry. But just to be safe, keep your small pets inside at night.

Buying alcohol — mail order, Costco

When I first moved to Raleigh, I used to do my shopping on Sunday morning. Now that I no longer have traditional working hours, I try to shop during the workday when other people are working but back then it was always Sunday. And I like to cook with wine so I usually have wine on my shopping list. But in North Carolina it is illegal to sell alcoholic beverages on Sunday mornings. Until 2017 liquor sales weren’t legal on Sunday mornings before noon but they changed the law to 10am so it’s slightly better now. And here’s another weird liquor law. In Florida where I moved from, we have liquor stores attached to grocery stores. It’s convenient so when you do your shopping you can pick up any alcohol you need. But here all alcohol has to be sold through state run ABC stores. ABC stands for the Alcohol Beverage Control Board. But ABC stores are closed on Sunday. And here is yet another weird alcohol issue… online liquor sales are very difficult…most online retailers will not ship to North Carolina. The ABC stores only carry limited varieties of alcohol, so if you are a connoisseur, like my husband, and like more sophisticated varieties of liquor, they can be hard to find here. And you can’t buy hard liquor in Costco in North Carolina, although they do carry wine.

Black Widows

Black Widows are COMMON in North Carolina. I have seen many many black widows since I have lived here. Now they are shy, they don’t like people and I have never once heard of anyone being bitten by them. You will often see them in dark places underneath things… so just pay attention to what you pick up. Even if you do accidentally run into them they aren’t aggressive and probably won’t bite you but certainly don’t go picking them up.

Smaller City

Raleigh is NOT New York City. You are not going to come here and find an endless urban adventure. The urban adventure definitely ends generally in about 4 city blocks and you’re back in the suburbs. You can walk around the whole downtown of Raleigh in about an hour.

Snake Laws

In another video I addressed the issue that we have venomous snakes here in Raleigh. Copperheads are the most ubiquitous. but since the time of that video, our standard for snake fear has shifted because of something in the news that happened a couple weeks ago, which is also how I learned about our snake laws, which I will get to in a minute. What happened was some animal loving Raleigh resident was keeping SIXTY venomous vipers in his home. And the way this all went down is actually in itself a pretty interesting peek into life in Raleigh. It must have been an incredibly slow news day because truthfully: the residents of Raleigh had a bonding moment over a spitting Cobra. People were searching high and low for this snake. There were memes, there were search parties. The Community feel was in full force.

This snake, a Zebra Cobra, somehow escaped from it’s captivity and had been on the loose for over a year. When it;s owner spotted it near his home and called the authorities. They came and eventually trapped the snake and hopefully brought it to a zoo or more acceptable home, because they discovered that this kid had many many snakes…black mambas, lots of cobras, apparently all living in his home and he was still living with his parents. What I learned from all this besides the fact that parenting children doesn’t end when they are adults, is that the laws in Raleigh actually allow people to keep venomous vipers as long as they are in an escape proof cage. I guess that’s where this guy went wrong because they took the snakes.

If you liked this video you will probably also like this one about the reasons people love living in Raleigh.

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